Is it a Book or a Blog? (How to Identify the Best Vehicle for Your Big Idea)
So you’ve got this great idea for a book, you say. The problem is that you don’t know if you’ve got enough material to actually fill a book. So what do you do? Do you: A) Move forward with the book, confident that you can “fill in the gaps” that aren’t filled by your idea with “filler” or “fluff”? or B) Post the idea online, in the form of a blog post instead?
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If you’re like most writers desperate to see your words in print, on paper (even if it means self-publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace, as I did with my debut children’s book, ‘Breaking Away: Book One of the Rabylon Series’, which is a perfectly fine way to be published, by the way), you’re probably thinking, “But I don’t want to write a blog! I want to write a book!” Believe me, I understand the allure of creating a physical book with your name on it, which others can hold in their hands and read by the fireplace, and which you can hold up as a trophy of sorts before the world and shout, “Look what I made!” But here’s the thing: It’s not about you, and your decision to write a book versus a blog should be based on other peoples’ wants and needs, not yours.
Your goal as a writer, whether of books, blogs, or both, should not be to stroke your own ego (or to drink your own Kool-Aid, as I like to say) by creating products where and when they need not exist, but to add value to other peoples’ lives. So instead of asking yourself “Should I write a book or a blog?” you should be asking yourself “Will I add more value to other peoples’ lives by writing a book or a blog?”
I see far too many self-help authors, such as leadership guru John Maxwell, ‘The Secret’ alumni Joe Vitale, and mega church pastor Joel Osteen, taking extremely simple ideas that could be summarized in 2,000 words or less and writing books about them, not to add value to others peoples’ lives, but to make a quick buck.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love money, because the more of it I have, the more value I can add to other peoples’ lives. And I’m all about prosperity and abundance, financial success, and applauding others, including Maxwell, Vitale, and Osteen, when they add another zero to their checking account balance. But what I am not about is writing books that should be blogs, just for the sake of making money, which is exactly what many of these self-help authors are doing.
Now, I’m sure that many of these authors are generally nice people who perhaps are driven as much by a desire to help others as they are by a desire to help themselves (or at least were, before the quick bucks from their “books” started flowing and they became addicted to easy money), but I’m also sure that if your idea can be summed up in 2,000 words or less, you don’t have a book on your hands, you have a blog. End of story.
Yes, you could add “filler” and “fluff” to your “book” to support your idea, effectively stretching what could have been said in 1,000 words to 10,000+ words. Yes, you could supplement the pages that put forth your actual idea with ads for your other books, your website, and your companies which have nothing to do with your idea, and use your “book” as a not-so-cleverly-disguised marketing tool for your “brand”. Hell, I’ve even seen authors use gigantic font sizes and blank pages to artificially inflate their “books’” page counts, and you could, too, but why would you? Why risk developing the reputation of a charlatan, a scam artist, a con-man or –woman, when you could just take your idea, sum it up, again, in 2,000 words or less, post it online in a blog, and still make some money from ads?
Sure, you may not make as much money from the ads you display on your blog post or website as you would from the sales of a cleverly marketed “book” (even though most authors make next to nothing selling books), but is money all you care about? What about your reputation? How much, in dollars, is that worth to you? Or how much could it be worth, if you were to, say, become an expert in your field and known for adding immense value to other peoples’ lives? If you haven’t ever put a mental price tag on that, you probably should before even considering writing a book that should really just be a blog, because it takes decades to build a reputation and only five minutes (or one really shitty “book”) to destroy it.
When I saw the movie version of ‘The Secret’ I loved it, and I loved Joe Vitale in it. I thought he came across as warm, compassionate, and very knowledgeable…but then I bought one of his books and realized that he’s nothing but the literary version of a snake oil salesman, pushing sugar pill paragraphs onto readers desperate for real answers, real information, and real value from people like him. I was disgusted. Accordingly, I will never buy another book of his again, look upon him with disdain every time I see his fat, balding head anywhere on the internet, and would never consider attending an event where he was scheduled to speak. So what do you think? Do you think it was worth it to Joe Vitale to lose all of his credibility and my respect forever for the maybe $10-20 he made off of me one shitty “book”?
Look, I, again, have nothing against money, nor against advertising or promoting one’s self or one’s business—in fact, these things are necessary if one is run a successful business—but just like with writing books just for the sake of making some money, I am fully against the idea of attaching a paper-thin idea to an overt sales pitch, packaging it as a “book”, and then selling it to people on the false premise that it can actually help them. Sure, the primary idea that spawned the “book” may be somewhat helpful, but how helpful, overall, is an author being when they are burying that idea under a mountain of “filler” and “fluff”?
My advice: If you can get away with compressing your idea into 2,000 words or less, write a blog post. And if you can fit the idea into 140 characters or less, just tweet it. But whatever you do, do not ever, under any circumstances, write a book, unless it is in the best interest of the reader and adds value to their life.
If you choose to ignore my advice and move ahead with publishing a book that should have been a blog anyway, all I ask is that you don’t go crying to someone else, least of all me, when the reviews of your “book” are terrible, your reputation is in tatters, your website traffic falls off a cliff, and you find that no one will pay one dollar, let alone several thousand, to hear you speak in person. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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